(Turin, 1845 – 1897)
La Pétroleuse vaincue
Giacomo Ginotti is one of the greatest Italian sculptors of international success who were active in that delicate situation between the postunitarian crisis and the tormented fin de siècle. During his life he had enormous approval from critics and the public, especially in relation with his greatest masterpiece, La Petroliera. In 1881, the thirty-five years old Ginotti presented La Pétroleuse vaincue in Milan at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts. The marble of La Petroliera was proposed at the Italian General Exposition in Turin (1884) and in the same year it obtained the gold medal in an exhibition in Liverpool. Inspired by the decades of political events beyond the Alps related to the Paris Commune, “Pétroleuse” was the name given to those ones accused of using oil to start fires during that turbulent period.
Ginotti wanted to give his Pétroleuse a timeless look, referring to the orientalist archetype of the schiava vinta. An exceptional work was produced, full of pathos and lit with an unusual beauty. Our sculpture is characterised by a rare bronze of very high quality used for this casting, reworked with extraordinary care and precision. This could mark the fact that this new version of La Petroliera was undoubtedly intended for a client of considerable prestige and importance. Moreover, a bronze of this quality manages to preserve and even enhance the strength and sensitivity of the vibrant material molded by Ginotti. His focus was to make that «soft solidity of the flesh» and that «subtle hint of the poetry of movement in the form». This impeccable bronze representation, stamped and dated 1887, is a result of the technical mastery of the historic foundry Mazzola di Valduggia which has been active since the Renaissance and historically specialized in the manufacture of bells.